A major group in my favorite sport, golf, just decided to put forth a rule which doubtless will be contested, debated, and possibly ignored, but I can't wait to hear the screams.
The Washington Post's piece, English Will Be the Official Language of the LPGA Tour, [August 27, 2008]says, "The LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) will require players to speak English starting in 2009, with players who have been LPGA members for two years facing suspension if they can't pass an oral evaluation of English skills. The rule is effective immediately for new players."
Apparently, the LPGA is as tired as most Americans of seeing too many good jobs going to offshore players, mostly Asians, who are taking away large portions of the LPGA purses, although the story doesn't admit that.
"There are 121 international players from 26 countries on the LPGA Tour, including 45 players from South Korea.
The South Koreans were informed of the rule; however, LPGA Commissioner Carolyn Bivens has not given them—or anyone—a written explanation, Galloway said.
But the message already appears to be lost in translation. The magazine said every South Korean player it interviewed believed she would lose her card if she failed the English evaluation.
Angela Park, born in Brazil of South Korean heritage and raised in the United States, said the policy is fair and good for the tour and its international players.
"A lot of Korean players think they are being targeted, but it's just because there are so many of them," Park told the magazine."
A more practical reason–and one I find legitimate–is the fact that sports figures are entertainment and heroes who cannot speak the sponsors' language can't become the kind of personalities that made players like Arnold Palmer, Juli Inkster, and, yes, Anika Sorenstam, the Swedish star now just retiring, top drawing cards for TV and product endorsements, fully capable of charming interviewers with their comments. As one tournament director noted, "This is an American tour. It is important for sponsors to be able to interact with players and have a positive experience."
My point: America is being picked over by many foreign countries, gnawed at like a carrion by vultures for its technology and its buying power for the goods and services being made in cheap labor nations. We have long suffered because we didn't demand English be America's official language, seeing many other languages (and their cultures) gaining free rein here, just like allowing foreign golfers to play in our open tournaments.
As former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm so eloquently noted in his famous October 2003 speech on how to destroy America, "I would encourage all immigrants to keep their own language and culture." These golfers come here to make far more money than they could make playing golf at home, creating a reverse twist to the cheap labor in their home countries which is costing Americans jobs. Further, to compete, these golfers must spend substantial time here. They are in fact cherry-picking American jobs. If they want to be here to earn a living, fine, but the new LPGA rule strikes me as very fair. Betcha if the purses get bigger overseas and comparable to purses here, our players will be required to learn the languages of those countries' sponsors.
Donald A. Collins [email him], is a freelance writer living in Washington DC and a former long time member of the board of FAIR, the Federation for American Immigration Reform. His views are his own.